By DICK PUHR

The Examiner



Another year and a new conference isn’t expected to slow the Lee’s Summit West baseball team.

The Titans are the choice of the coaches to capture the Suburban Middle Six title this spring.

Park Hill and Truman tied for second followed by St. Joseph Central and Riuskin. A coach couldn’t vote for his own team.

West, which tied for second in then Suburban Middle Six last season, returns 10 letter winners from an 18-8 team.

“We are very athletic,” West coach Jay Meyer said. “We have good team chemistry. They like playing together. We have depth. A goal is to win every inning.”

Lettermen are Jerico Brown, Matt Fultz, Travis Stroup, Luke Knott, Ryan Dowling, Jacob Admire, Matt Hall, John Fairchild and Boston Woodworth.

PARK HILL

The defending champion Trojans return only Adam Vanderpool, Luke Burnidge, Marcus Cross and Nathan Shores from a 17-5 team.

“We will be inexperienced with the graduation of 11 seniors from last year’s state quarterfinals team,” coach Greg Reynolds said. “The season will be determined by the starting pitching. Cross, Burnridge and Nathan Shores must lead a staff with few varsity innings.”

TRUMAN

The Patriots come off a successful 15-9 season, including 7-2 for second place in the conference.

Coach John Eglich returns perhaps a more talented cast in Tyler Bodenstab, Josh Felz, James O’Dell, Tanner Burkett, Tommie Harris, Zach Sharp, Joe Monaco, Brian Read, Tom Ruddy and J.T. Hayes,

“We have to build upon the District 15 championship,” Eglich said. “We return three of the top four pitchers and 10 players from 2010. The keys will be defense and timely hitting to produce runs.”

ST. JOSEPH CENTRAL

Central posted a 13-9 record in the Suburban Big Seven last season.

Because of 11 returning lettermen, the Indians likely will enjoy continued success this spring.

“This year we will return nine of 13 varsity letter winners from last year,” coach Justin McCarthy said. “We should be very strong offensively and defensively. We did graduate two pitchers from a year, so pitching is our question mark.”

Letter winners are Tyler Arthur, Jacob Boling, Will Carter, Joe Conrad, Hayden Steele, Travis Callaway, Jack Viesterz, John Scroggins and Brad Schlange.

NORTH KANSAS CITY

Lettermen Sam Williams, Zach Tyson, Taylor Brooks, Rafael Torres, Michael Middleton, Sam White, Geofrey Borque and Nick Guadagnaro lead the Hornets hopes of improving upon a 12-12 record.

“We have a solid group coming back led by Tyson and Brooks,” coach Jeff Klein said. “The key for our season will be who else steps into a couple of varsity roles. We lost a junior starter to transfer and another to grades. So, we will need some younger kids to develop. If so, I think we will very competitive.”

RUSKIN

The Eagles come off a tough 2-10 season in the Suburban Small Six.

Prospects appear brighter because of the getting players from the now closed Hickman Mills.

“I am very optimistic considering the greater pool of players since the consolation of Hickman and Ruskin,” coach Lou Garcia said. “We   have a tough schedule, so it will be exciting to see how the kids grow and jell as a team. Who will be the leaders and the playmakers?”

Fourteen lettermen will lead the Eagles.